What to Expect When You’re Expecting a Home Study Visit

By hoaadmin
March 18, 2024

Completing the home study paperwork can be a terrifying adventure – the list of tasks seems to go on forever and the questions are probing and can trigger hard memories. Nothing, however, seems to strike more fear into prospective adoptive parents’ hearts than the home visit. Visions of stern, white-gloved matrons digging through closets and checking under the fridge for dust can dance in your head. The good news is that caseworkers have ditched the white gloves and we only rummage through your closet to find clothes we want to borrow (kidding…maybe. A lot of you are very snappy dressers).

We are coming to get to know you better, to make sure the house has enough room for a new addition and that you have a realistic understanding of the adoption process and its lifelong implications. We are on your team and want you to welcome home a little one nearly as much as you do! Many of us become quite close to our home study families – we root you on, cry for/with you and pray for Finalization Day alongside you. In the hopes of putting some minds at ease, here are a few tips, tricks, and information to know to get ready for your first home visit.

Be messy and complicated and afraid and show up anyways

What to do before the Home Visit:

  • Sharing is caring – don’t be stingy with your words when writing your biographical Information.
  • Make sure all your paperwork is done. Caseworkers can’t get to know you if we don’t have your background info.
  • Talk about your comfort levels – what is the background of the child you’re looking to welcome home?
  • Make a list of all the adoption questions you’ve had but were too afraid to ask.  Nothing you say is going to shock us, I promise!
  • Take a few deep breaths and get a good night’s sleep beforehand.
  • Make sure your home’s safety is 100% – up to date fire extinguishers, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, a water safety plan if you have a pool or live near water.
  • Know and understand that we aren’t looking for perfection.
  • Identify a good place in the house to sit and talk, but that also gives the caseworker room to take notes – a dining room table is usually the perfect spot.

What NOT to do before the Home Visit:

  • Meltdown.
  • Hire a cleaning service.
  • Make cookies, cakes or any kind of baked goods (We do so many visits, we can’t eat treats at all of them – we aren’t Santa 😊).
  • Neglect to think of questions or have internal conversations about your adoption comfort levels.
  • Forget to celebrate that you completed all that paperwork!
  • Childproof the house.
  • Set up a nursery (We just need to see that the home has the space for a child. In the end, the only thing you really need to take placement is a car seat – stop at Target for the rest on the way home from the hospital).
home sweet home visit picture

What to Expect When the Caseworker Comes:

  • A quick tour of the home happens in all home studies. We need to see the garage and backyard too. The tour doesn’t last more than a few minutes.
  • Five minutes to pet your dogs and/or try to say “hi” to your cats.
  • Questions from the caseworker about the paperwork you’ve submitted.
    • We are probably going to focus most on your relationship, why you’re on the adoption path, your expectations of being a parent, and your formative years.
  • An overview of the adoption process.
    • If you are using HOA for both home study and placement services, this can be pretty in-depth.
  • If anyone else is in the home, we will need to talk with them too.
    • For very young kiddos, we just like to see the interactions between parent and child, though even very young children can be exposed to the idea of a sibling, if not adoption.
home study approved picture

With all of this being said, the best advice that can truly be given is to never be afraid to ask – whether it be logistical questions, for additional support, to be connected with mentor families or other families going through this process.  The home study process is designed to help you be the best parent you can be.  Let us know when you’re nervous or need help, as there is no shame in being vulnerable.  We can’t wait to approve you and get you on your way to the match that is perfect for you.